Sunday, October 28, 2012

Day 325

Good things to remember ...
1. Costumes make everything more fun. So do great friends.
2. A little rain is no reason to stay inside.
3. Art = Happiness.
4. Look up at the sky. It is amazing.
5. Never underestimate the other guy. Or you.
6. Planning to catch up on work on Sunday nights is a bad idea. (Stop that.)

That is all.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Day 322

I've let 11 days lapse without a post. In part because I've set some rules of engagement. Time flies so fast and sometimes I feel like I spend so much of it tethered to this device, or that one, missing what's most important, the goings-on as they unfold. So I vowed to unplug more. And I have. A bit.

And in the last almost-two-weeks...

I've flown across the country, marveling at the fact that we can actually do that: be whisked through the air, offered a birds-eye view of life below. How small it all looks. How small we all are, really, in the big grand scheme. It makes you think. 

I spent wonderful days with my mom, Grandma Kath, grateful that my boys have her in their lives, a different kind of mom than me. A better one in lots of ways.

I became obsessed with a house. A house that is not my own. One that most likely will never be my house. It's not that I like it better than my house. But I like it. And I like imagining that it could be my house. Probably because that sort of imagining entertains my brain. Which isn't so entertaining to Jon. Which I totally get.

I cried. Parenting is hard, and opening the door to self doubt lets in a lot of shit that's better shut out. Just do it. Keep moving. Don't show weakness. Beginnings of a new manifesto (some of it borrowed... thank you, Nike.)

I saw my dear friend and her awesome kids, which reminded me that with certain people it doesn't matter how long you go without seeing each other or how short your meetings are, they're among your favorite peeps for reasons that transcend day-to-day circumstances.

I learned of others' losses - really major, heartbreaking losses. Several of them. I cried for people I hardly know. I could only imagine their pain. 

I spent the whole night of the last presidential debate slave to a stomach bug. Damn daycare germs. It was ugly. For HOURS. Through the night. I stayed home from work the next day and slept most of it. I rented a movie: The Painted Veil. It was good. It was about cholera. The irony. 

I stressed about work. I collaborated with colleagues. Really amazing, smart people who know the meaning of team. I am lucky.

I've landed at a place that's more content and grateful than the one I was circling around 10 days ago. But I suspect that the cycle will begin afresh. Up and down. High and low. Because, well, that's sort of how I roll... 

We can fly. Isn't that amazing? 
I spent half my childhood in a gym like this.
My boys are lucky to have Grandma Kath.
The miles (and miles) their moms have seen together... 
Jules' surprise pink petals softened the blow of Sunday night blues.
With some better perspective.
Jules: "Mama, It's bare."
Me: What? Thinking he's talking of an animal. An imaginary friend.
Jules: "The tree." Pointing to this guy up here. "There's only one leaf left."
Kai: "It's bare. It's a Mama Bear and a Papa Bear."
THIS is why I blog.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Day 311

I use the word "awesome" entirely too much. (I once worked at a teen magazine - what do you expect?) But there is so much in the world - and in my world - that is  awesome. Awesome in the true definition of the word.

Things like...

This sky (and I captured not even a fraction of its majesty on our drive down to New York Friday evening:

And this bridge. Any bridge for that matter (said with a nod to Olin and structural engineers everywhere): 

The fact that these kids exist (to play with a deflated b-ball found at the park)... these offspring of two sets of Forest Hills roommates who swapped roommates and made them. (Um, I think this must sound weird and strangely inappropriate. Translation: Approximately a dozen years ago, HT and I met Todd-o and Olin at the Irish Cottage in Forest Hills. The rest is history.)

Like I said, stuff like this: incredibly awesome. I am grateful. So grateful. Always grateful. But often not in the moment. In fact, rarely in the moment. I get stuck in the weeds (the tantrums, the demands for daddy, the laundry and the clutter). And the same thing happens at work (OK, no demands for daddy there). I get overwhelmed. I get sad. These days, easily and often. I lose sight of the big picture. Of the awesomeness. The true awesomeness. How to keep that close? You tell me: How how do you keep  your head in the clouds (keeping dreaming, wondering, marveling)?  

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Day 307

Yesterday on the Instagram feed of some random photographer whom I follow but do not know, I saw this quote: "Comparison is the thief of joy." Teddy Roosevelt.

And I thought, yessssss

I've been there, measuring myself up against the Joneses, thinking things like, 
Wow, she's like 25, and has produced four novels and four children, WTF have I been doing?   
All my organic chemistry study buddies are making a gazillion dollars a year as chemical engineers and anesthesiologists while I am earning the same word-rate as I made in 2000... to write about carrots. 

Why didn't I stick with teaching dance - or get that MFA instead of the MS? That creative life seems so much... better. 

Then I get real: I count my blessings. I acknowledge that I have a great life, that I have accomplished many of my goals, that I am truly happy for these other highly successful people. And then I mostly move on. 

So I was thinking this... and suddenly I was realizing that comparisons, done right, don't thieve joy at all. They can inspire, they can empower, they can highlight the unique qualities that make you - or the people you love - awesome. 

You can compare yourself to that co-worker who does not necessarily have extraordinarily mad athletic skills and who just rocked her first marathon and think, "I can do that."

You can watch your friend grow an awesome business and realize, "If I am willing to focus all of my energy and loads of time into that one passion that consumes me, I can do that too." 

You can make caramel apples, using the recipe from EatingWell, compare them to the photo and say, "These look like shit  - probably because was too impatient to thoroughly dry the apples. But they taste great, so who cares?" And then realize - happily - that you're not a TOTAL control freak. 

You can look at your two little boys and recognize how the same they are  - and how so very different. How one is sensitive, passionate and uber-perceptive and the other, an ever-pleasant hot-mess who can smile himself out of any sticky situation. A Bert & Ernie of sorts. (They actually dressed as the duo last Halloween.)

And through comparison, you begin to pinpoint the awesome qualities that define each of them, those two boys you love so fiercely. You love them the same. But differently. I get it now, Mom. Maybe you don't really have a favorite. (But I still think it's Kate. And that's cool... )

#fail - or not? 

Guess which one? (Hint: he's sort of our Bert)

And Ernie... 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Day 304

Jon's parents came to visit this weekend - it was the last time we'll see them before they head to their "alligator house" in Calabash, North Carolina. We all were looking forward to the visit - Jules and Kai, especially. Grandma Val and Papa Jon were supposed to arrive at 10 a.m. but rolled in closer to 11. During this hour of waiting, which coincided with a downpour outside, unfortunately... 1) Julian sat in the bay window impatiently watching for their red Highlander and 2) the little-boy energy in this house increased to explosive levels. When my in-laws arrived, pent-up excitement erupted into hugs and kisses, songs and show-and-tell situations. And after all of those positive ways of channeling energy had run their course, the boys started rolling around on the floor and beating the shit out of each other. All in good fun, of course. Until Jules slammed Kai's head against something and suddenly everyone was crying. Including me. Not really. But close.

Bless them, my in-laws volunteered to shuttle the boys out somewhere so that we could "get some stuff done." (Later we learned it was to the mall for merry-go-rounds and candy.) They left. Jon and I breathed in a collective sigh of relief, exhaled a few breaths of gratitude and decided, "chores be damned... we're going out." And we drove through the South End neighborhoods where, right now, we're scheming to live and we stopped for a leisurely lunch at The Spot (nice work, Chantal, if you're reading!)... 

Now it's Sunday afternoon, our house is still a mess, there's enough dirty laundry round here to clothe an unhygienic army...I should be watching gamification videos or writing content instead of blogging, also what I should have been doing an hour ago when I let Jules watch a video and snuggled next to him with my Kindle while Kai napped. Chris and Ri are arriving in an hour for family dinner and the Patriots game. 

But whatever. Buzz off "coulds" and "shoulds" - we're all going to be dead soon. Sounds morbid, yes, but it's really just a more direct way of saying "life's too short," no? 

Here's to seizing lazy days. (And being okay with the idea that I'll probably be working tonight past midnight.)

Psst... Sister Kate: I bought you one of these mugs. xo

Friday, October 5, 2012

Day 302

The other day Jules asked me if we knew everyone in Vermont. 

It's a funny question because sometimes it feels like the answer is yes. Burlington, in particular, is a relatively small community and, because our lives right now are focused on places and activities that are family-friendly - farmer's markets and farms, playgrounds and the ECHO - we tend to keep running into the same people over and over. And for better or worse, I'm the kind of person who believes that, if our paths have crossed (in person or otherwise), two or more times, I should know you. So I introduce myself. (If you've been a target and felt accosted, um, I'm sorry.) In any case, we know a lot of people in Vermont--or at least this little corner of it. 

But what constantly surprises me is how many new people I keep meeting - many of them friends of friends who've been moving in circles concentric to mine for years. Which seems crazy. And then I remind myself that, for almost half a decade,  I've been living under a little rock that is a needy young family. (Don't get me wrong, this has been awesome. Most of the time.)

I'm a classic extrovert, and I need to be connecting constantly to keep happy. Hunkering down at home, no doubt, is a big part of why I have felt so ambivalent about staying in Vermont these last few years. But lately I've been able to dip back into the worlds that feed my spirit: I'm dancing again. I'm going to out to hear live music, to book readings and art exhibits. I'm lingering over long dinners with old friends: irreverent ones with creative tendencies, my favorite kind of people.

And I remember now: This town, this state, is packed with passionate people who make me feel normal. And engaged. Inspired. 

So, no, Jules: We don't know everyone in Vermont. But the more people we meet, the more I love this place. 

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Day 300

It's late and I'm tired and tomorrow is going to be a long (but not at all in a bad way - guest lecturing at UVM, Christina's book party, date with Manova and, um, work)... but it's Day 300. How can I skip Day 300? In the interest of capturing things fast, I'm bullet-pointing it. Here's what I discovered today:
  • Watching a Presidential debate counts as a bona fide date, as it demonstrates that, indeed, Jon and I are on the same page. And that we each think the other is pretty effing funny. (Even if we're the only ones.)
  • Speaking of love (yeah, I was) and crushes: apparently this all starts when you're four-ish. It's then when your "heart starts beating really fast" when you see your favorite girl. The girl that you love more than ice cream but not more than gummies, the one who is approximately 20 years your senior. 
  • I don't really want a pixie cut. What I really want is the sort of reverse mullet - party in the front, business in the back (with an little Alfalfa situation at the crown) - that was my last cut. Hannah - if you happen to be reading -  I take full responsibility for this current style ... you perfectly executed my "go short! go short! my hair grows superfast!" direction. But here's a good visual for next time:  
I love this haircut. And these earrings. And the guy on the left.
(The dark under-eye circles and big zit on my neck - not so much.)

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Day 299

Dear Me,
Next time you feel that icky, itchy, angry, anxious feeling, stop spinning. Do one of the following:

1. Dance to Tom Waits. (Thanks Lo!)

2. Take off the ugly shoes and put on the motorcycle boots.

3. Ask Kai who the vice president of the United States is. (His answer: Batman.)

That is all.